idols in the bible
Praise Foundations

What is an Idol in God’s Eyes? 3 Ways Idolatry Snares You

The worship of idols in the Bible was one of the pervasive and problematic issues throughout the history of humankind, luring hearts and minds away from the worship of the Almighty, holy God. All of humanity was created to worship the Lord. 

Within every person is the innate and immutable desire for a spiritual connection, but the enemy has twisted and manipulated that desire within people to redirect their worship to anyone or anything other than God. 

What is Idolatry in the Bible?

The idols in the Bible range in nature and form, and are expressed differently between cultures, but they all have the same root – The Adversary of God. In the Old Testament, Isaiah noted that the enemy of God would desire to be like him saying, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) 

In every way throughout the ages, the enemy has tried to lure hearts from God and present other objects to worship in place of the true God, because what he really wants the most is your worship.

Even within the body of Christ, Satan continues with the same tactics he used to lure people to worship idols in the Bible. Some people still worship such things as the sun, moon and stars and others worship carved statues and idols, but the true people of God would never do that.

No true worshipper of God would ever offer up a human sacrifice, of course, so in order for idolatry to work among the body of Christ, the enemy makes it look… godly.

Idols in the Bible and Idolatry Today Have the Same Roots

Because you were made to worship, you will worship someone or something even if you don’t realize it. If you are not building your faith upon the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ, and staying in His presence through the connection of worship, you’re still worshipping – you’re just not worshipping God. 

You were created to worship the Lord. (Isaiah 43:21) But even the children of God can get caught up in idolatry if their lives aren’t devoted to the intentional, daily, and committed worship of God.

Yes, it is that for the human heart to forget God’s grace, power, love, and mercy, to become overwhelmed and stop being grateful, to focus on the natural realm and the works of their hands, to lapse into the worship of images on social media. 

quote about worshipping the Lord

No true follower of Jesus Christ would worship a carved image, but because the enemy is jealous for your praise and worship, he will try to keep you apart from God’s presence in true worship using things that seem harmless or practical:

  • career building
  • abundance and blessings
  • family needs
  • friendships and relationships
  • hopes and dreams
  • your ministry 

If that doesn’t work, he’ll increase the pressure and try to keep you trapped in the passive idolatry of your trauma and pain, unforgiveness and bitterness, drama and troubles.

Your life’s journey will be filled with plenty of trials, but worship is a weapon of spiritual victory and Satan knows that and its why your enemy will exploit every weakness if you’re not strong in your faith. 

…worship is a weapon of spiritual victory and Satan knows that and its why your enemy will exploit every weakness if you’re not strong in your faith. 

~Alicia Purdy

In fact, the body of Christ is filled with people who lift their hands and sing together, but Jesus said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain they do worship Me…” (Matthew 15:7-9 MEV) 

The false gods that receive more praise than the One True God are still “alive and well” in many churches.

black and white tree branches

Idols Are Brought to Life by the Spiritually Dead

Idolatry within the church is hiding in plain sight, but alive and well and it is of the same spirit that drove people to worship idols in the Bible – the spirit of the Anti-Christ power that has sought to exalt himself “against the knowledge of God” from the very beginning.

Praise and worship, when misunderstood, misused, and abused look like a “good thing”, but aren’t always a God thing and sometimes the songs themselves, or the people on the stage, or the music and worship “experience” can take the place of God Himself in the hearts of His people.

In Biblical terms, God Himself said in the Old Testament:

“[The idols of the nations are] idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; feet, but they cannot walk; neither can they speak with their throat. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)

In the New Testament, Romans 1:18-20 (MEV) is clear:

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth through unrighteousness. For what may be known about God is clear to them since God has shown it to them. The invisible things about Him—His eternal power and deity—have been clearly seen since the creation of the world and are understood by the things that are made, so that they are without excuse.”

The worship of “idols” today doesn’t usually look like offering human sacrifices to demonic powers or like the worship of idols in the Bible did, but if you don’t have a life centered around the worship of God, it’s centered around the worship of something or someone else. 

Worshipping the work of human hands can be anything that distracts you from making your relationship with God the primary focus and emphasis in life and eventually, your faith in the Lord will die inside of you.

The Spiritually Alive Worship the Living God

Jesus warned that worshipping God alone would cause division in families (Matt. 10:35) and it does! Plenty of people had to destroy idols in the Bible, but they did it out of a fierce loyalty to the Lord. It is no different today. Idol worship is still an issue among all human beings, even believers, because the enemy wants your praise and he is a cunning, ruthless, and relentless predator. (John 10:10)

Anything that is given priority, time, intention, loyalty and adoration over that which is given first to God is a form of idolatry. This is what ensnares Christians who love the Lord, but don’t spend meaningful time in His presence in worship, in His Word, and communing with Him in prayer.

Anything that is given priority, time, intention, loyalty and adoration over that which is given first to God is a form of idolatry. 

~Alicia Purdy

If the Holy Spirit convicts you about areas of your life He is jealous for, it’s time to repent and offering yourself to the Lord as a willing, living sacrifice of thanksgiving in praise and ministry to Him.

Learn more about the 7 Hebrew Words for Praise and how each one helps create strength, intimacy, and fresh revelation as you understand more about God’s plan for praise in your life!

Worship and praise are God-focused and help keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. The darkness of the world creeps in with many “good” things, but if you’re going to walk in victory over the enemy, if you’re going to remain spiritually strong and alive, you must worship the Living God.

There are many forms of idolatry that plague God’s people, but if you are living a lifestyle of worship, you’ll be able to battle Satan’s evil desire for your heart, your attention, and your praise.

What is an Idol in God’s Eyes? 3 Ways Idolatry Snares You

Worship is many things to many people, but to the Lord, worship is only one thing: Ministry to Him.

It is not a popular perspective to assert that praise and worship are exclusively God-centered. Why? Because with that understanding comes the responsibility to take spiritual authority to change the way that things are and to recognize and eliminate areas of idolatry in your life, in your church or ministry, and even in your family.

In Judges 6, Gideon was commissioned by the Lord to lead the nation of Israel into freedom and victory from the Midianites who were tormenting and taunting God’s people, raiding, marauding, killing and terrorizing them into poverty and perpetual fear. But before Gideon could fight a public battle, he had to fight a very private one and confront the idolatry in his own life.

Gideon knew that, in Exodus 20, the Lord gave the 10 Commandments to the people of Israel. In the second commandment He said:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven idol, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water below the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:3-5, MEV)

Asherah poles in the Bible were sacred, carved trees to honor the goddess Asherah – the female consort of Ba’al. The worship of the false ‘godess’ Asherah was part of the Canaanite culture and Asherah was a “sacred feminine” object of worship seen as divine in stark contract to the ‘patriarchal’ God Jehovah. Jezebel was a known worshipper of both Asherah and Ba’al. 

The Lord told Gideon: “…Tear down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it…” (Judges 6:25-26 MEV)

Gideon had to tear down the Asherah poles that had been in his life for generations and the result of his obedience to the Lord? His friends and the men of his city began to hunt him down to kill him. (Judges 6:28)

The world’s culture still rejects the fatherhood of God and the Son of Man Jesus Christ, and the most prevalent form of idolatry today is still the rejection of God as a Heavenly Father. 

~Alicia Purdy

Even today, a “divine feminine” plagues God’s people. The world’s culture still rejects the fatherhood of God and the Son of Man Jesus Christ, and the most prevalent form of idolatry today is still the rejection of God as a Heavenly Father. 

Ba’al is a false god that has existed since ancient times and “he” is one of the oldest known false gods that was worshipped by many pagan cultures of people – even God’s people. Ba’al in the Bible represents the spirit of the Adversary of God who “was murderous from the beginning.” (John 8:44) 

Because idols and strongholds have been in place for so long even many believers overlook them, or have simply learned to live alongside them. But before Gideon could be ready to take the lead before God’s people, he had to tear down the altar to Ba’al and take the spiritual lead at home by confronting the idols and strongholds within his own home and family.

sacrifice of worship quote

The Lord said to Gideon, “Tear down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this stronghold…” (MEV)

You cannot just tear down old idols, you must “build an altar” to the Lord to replace your former idolatry with true worship, otherwise you’ll become ensnared again.

Because idols and strongholds have been in place for so long even many believers overlook them, or have simply learned to live alongside them.

~Alicia Purdy

Many Christians have become ensnared to the same spirit behind the worship of Ba’al and have succumbed to the way the world thinks and acts through social media, politics, false teachings, self exaltation, and sinful behaviors – and in none of these things is God praised.

From human sacrifice, sexual immorality, destruction, and the exaltation of human power, Ba’al is still worshipped today by many although not by the same name. The obscenity of the worship of Ba’al in today’s world is still among all who are of “their father, the devil” as Jesus said. (John 8:44) 

The fact is, you cannot exist between two worlds and God knows the difference because He looks upon the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

When the Lord told Gideon to, “Tear down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it,” (Judges 6:25-26 MEV)

He wanted Gideon to confront his family strongholds and idols. No, it was not an easy task for Gideon, in fact, he did it under cover of night! (Judges 6: 27) But he did it anyway. And it was the key to breakthrough! 

In fact, the Lord used those very things – the wood from the poles – to ignite Gideon into true worship.

Then build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this stronghold in an orderly way. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole that you will cut down.” (Judges 6:25-26 MEV)

It was a common practice in Israel at that time to have household shrines and idols, even among the people of God who had blended their worship of the One True God with the worship of a graven image of Asherah and other idols of the pagan nations that surrounded them. 

Gideon tore down the physical idols that belonged to his family as an act of loyalty to the Lord and this was a deeply significant act because in those days household idols were passed down from father to son. This means that Gideon tore down the inheritance that his father planned to give him in order to let the Lord give him an inheritance. 

Gideon tore down the inheritance that his father planned to give him in order to let the Lord give him an inheritance. 

~Alicia Purdy

How fascinating and ironic- the very things that were used to pull God’s people away, He set them ablaze and used for His glory!! Every family has generational strongholds, and things that are not God-centered that need to be removed. 

Who will do it in your family? Gideon couldn’t avoid confronting his family about their idols because it was a necessary experience for the battles the Lord knew he’d win in the future.

Throughout Israel’s history, many leaders came among the people of Israel and tore down the “high places” where the sin of idolatry had infected God’s people, or melted a golden calf, but the infection continued to return again and again. Why was it so easy to become ensnared again? Because they removed idols, but never replaced their worship. 

You were created to worship. God is jealous for your worship, so is Satan. A lifestyle rooted in praise and worship will help you continually deny yourself to offer a sacrifice of worship to the Lord. 

Part of everyone’s faith journey to victory and freedom in Christ will include confronting those “idols” of addiction, old ways of thinking, religious oppression, disapproval, control, and even  misguided good intentions. 

DENY YOURSELF Free Printable Coloring Page

They don’t have to be as blatant as idols in the Bible were, but the consequences are the same – a heart that is slowly lured away from the vital connection to God’s spirit that regular, personal worship and praise create.

What Gideon did wasn’t easy, but it was necessary because the Lord wanted to show Gideon that:

  1. His true inheritance wasn’t from his earthly father, but from his Heavenly Father
  2. He would build an altar to God from those “former things” and worship God for the new thing He was about to do!!

Anything in the world can become an object of idolatry because the force behind idolatry is the worship, desire for, praise, exaltation, admiration, emphasis of, or intimacy with anyone or anything more than you have it with Christ – the only One who is worthy of worship. 

Incorporating prayer, worship and the Word of God into your daily life will help keep your mind focused on Him and will help you better recognize areas in which idolatry might be an issue. Gideon had to confront the idolatry in himself, and in his own home before the Lord used him to win over the enemy.

Incorporating prayer, worship and the Word of God into your daily life will help keep your mind focused on Him and will help you better recognize areas in which idolatry might be an issue.

~Alicia Purdy

Seek the Lord for what family strongholds, idols, generational demonic influences and familiar spirits could be trying to influence you or lure your heart away from the desire to worship God. If the Lord shows you areas of idolatry in your life, you have a choice to make, as Gideon did: Confront or continue on. 

God has something powerful in mind for you and by honoring Him first in all things and you’ll show Him – and yourself – that you’re ready for the next step in the season He is preparing.

Get to Know God! “Partnering in Power with the Names of God in Your Situation”

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